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by Peter Rousselot — July 31, 2014 at 2:30 pm 622 0

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotAt the County Board’s July 17 work session on Arlington’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), John Vihstadt, seconded by Libby Garvey, introduced a motion:

[A]ny contracts between Arlington County or an instrumentality of the County and a third party vendor or service provider for services of $1,000,000 or more related to or impacting a CIP project require a vote by the Arlington County Board at a regularly scheduled meeting.

Vihstadt said his motion was prompted by the County’s May 30 announcement that a contract already had been awarded to Parsons Transportation Group. That contract provides for a sweeping range of professional services to consult about streetcars. Parsons will advise the County in areas ranging from financial management and reporting, environmental, right of way acquisition, vehicle acquisition support, construction management oversight, and public outreach. For their initial work, Parsons will be paid $7 million to $8 million.

The “public outreach” portion of the Parsons contract allocates $650,000 of taxpayer dollars to a P.R. campaign to try to promote the streetcar.

Vihstadt stated that his motion included the phrase “related to or impacting a CIP project” because the CIP was the topic under consideration at the work session. He was concerned that a broader motion might have been ruled out of order.

Despite Vihstadt’s care in limiting his motion to CIP-related contracts, County staff found a different technicality upon which to base an objection. Staff says that although all contracts for professional services in excess of $50,000 performed as part of a capital improvement project do require Board approval, “professional services” are narrowly defined only to include certain professions.

Staff believes that the $7 million to $8 million package of professional services Parsons will be performing all lie outside the County’s narrow definition of “professional services”. Therefore, no Board approval is required for the Parsons contract.

Under the staff’s interpretation, a contract for $50,001 for architectural services performed as part of a capital improvement project does require a Board vote, but the Parsons $7 million to $8 million contract does not require a Board vote. Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the staff’s interpretation of the County’s current policy is correct.

The staff — and the County Board — are missing the main point.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Healthy government transparency requires broad public awareness and a Board vote prior to committing our tax dollars to large contracts.

The Arlington County Board should change its current policy, and adopt a new policy that requires that the County Board itself approve all contracts of $1 million or more regardless of subject matter.

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

by Mark Kelly — July 31, 2014 at 2:00 pm 459 0

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyNew County Board member John Vihstadt is making a difference.

In response to the latest spending waste — the P.R. campaign to promote the trolley — he asked why the Board did not get to vote on the contract. The response he got was nothing but legalese.

Vihstadt, supported by Libby Garvey, proposed that the Board vote on any contract over $1 million in the future. Even the three “vote trolley” majority could not shoot him down on this common sense proposal.

Now, maybe Vihstadt can do something about the County Board funding meaningless surveys. This week it was announced that the Board believes Arlington residents approve of its housing policies. Those policies have done little to stop the loss of affordable housing stock, but of course they sound good when asked the right way on a telephone survey.

This latest survey ranks right up there with the survey the Board produces regularly to say Arlington residents like the services they get. It is completely useless to learn anything, but it makes them feel better. Funny though, the Board has never produced a survey to say whether Arlingtonians would approve or disapprove of the trolley project if given a vote on it.

Next up, the Board must get the promised County auditor function up and running — an auditor who should be reporting directly to the Board. Until that happens, the Board should ask County Manager to direct the auditor to identify at least 10 substantial ways the Board can trim the county budget for next year. Identifying more than 10 would be better, but it would be a good start.

Finally, our Board should do something about how the bond measures are placed on the ballot. In 2012, the average voter had no idea funding for the aquatics center was in the parks and recreation bond. The County Board should tell the voters exactly what they are voting on. And, if more than $10 million is going to one specific project, why not give Arlingtonians the opportunity to vote straight up or down on it as a standalone measure?

Transparency and accountability are good things. The Board should always be looking for ways to embrace them more.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

by ARLnow.com — July 25, 2014 at 10:20 am 2,302 0

Metro’s Silver Line is set to officially open on Saturday, with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and other notable officials on hand to watch the first train depart the Wiehle-Reston East station.

The launch of the Silver Line has economic ramifications for Arlington, though there’s some debate over whether those ramifications will be mostly good or mostly bad.

On the pessimistic side, rail transit in Reston and Tysons could enhance the desirability of those areas and present Arlington with stiff competition, especially in the commercial office market.

On the optimistic side, the fact that the Silver Line will run through Arlington on the way to D.C. could actually make the county’s Orange/Silver corridor even more desirable as an economic hub. The video above makes the case that Ballston in particular is well-positioned to benefit from the Silver Line.

Publicly and privately, officials with Arlington Economic Development say they expect Tysons to take many years to develop as a truly desirable urban area, with walkable and active streets and ample housing. Even then, they believe Arlington’s multi-decade head start on transit-oriented development, and its proximity to D.C., will give the county the competitive edge over Tysons.

On balance, do you think the Silver Line will help or hurt Arlington County?
 

by Mark Kelly — July 24, 2014 at 2:00 pm 607 0

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyFor voters who look for experienced public servants with a record of doing what’s right for their constituents, Dave Foster’s entry into the 48th District special election is a welcome development.

Dave Foster was twice elected by Arlingtonians to the School Board. What’s even more impressive than Foster’s electoral victories versus the Democrats’ sample ballot is that twice he was elected by his Democratic colleagues to serve as Chairman of the School Board. In other words, he was so successful in getting things done across party lines on behalf of our public schools that he was entrusted with leading the Board.

When Foster left the Board after eight years, his Democratic colleagues called him the “consummate professional” and “an exemplary public servant.” They recognized his work to reduce class size and to increase foreign language offerings in Arlington schools. Later he was tapped to serve on the Virginia Board of Education where he was elected President, and led the fight for Virginia’s No Child Left Behind waiver.

Rip Sullivan has no such record to offer. The mailing he sent out to potential Democrat firehouse primary voters was merely a laundry list of partisan priorities. Sullivan even admitted to the Blue Virginia blog that he supports a non-revenue neutral carbon tax. A carbon tax would raise our energy prices — hitting those on the lowest end of the economic ladder the hardest. Implementing an energy tax would raise out-of-pocket costs for transportation, to heat and cool our homes, and for everything we consume that requires energy to produce or transport.

Sullivan’s focus on partisan priorities like raising taxes was to the exclusion of district specific concerns. After being declared the winner of the Democratic nomination, Sullivan was asked by a reporter for the Connection whether he agreed with Dave Foster’s position on a referendum on the Columbia Pike trolley — a big issue for Arlington voters. He responded that he was going to “go to bed” rather than respond. A week later, Sullivan reiterated his support spending half a billion dollars on the trolley project, but joined Foster in support of a referendum.

Voters should be dubious of Sullivan’s campaign conversion to support for a referendum. Del. Patrick Hope, an early Sullivan backer, said he supported a referendum during his run for Congress. After losing that primary, Hope said he would not be introducing legislation in Richmond to force a referendum.

By contrast, Dave Foster stands squarely against the trolley and would be better positioned with a Republican majority in Richmond to pass a referendum. Voters can add this to Foster’s commitment to put his education experience to work for our children. And, they can count on Foster’s promise to work across the partisan divide on Medicaid reforms in the upcoming special session.

Partisan Democrats like state Sen. Barbara Favola want to make this race about promoting the progressive agenda and focusing on divisive issues. Voters, on the other hand, are tired of all the partisan posturing. They want to elect people who will focus on finding solutions.

On Aug. 19, 48th District residents can elect a candidate with a proven ability to get things done across party lines by voting for Dave Foster.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

by James Lander — July 24, 2014 at 1:30 pm 851 0

Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

James LanderArlington’s progressive vision for its public schools has been longstanding and led to remarkable successes. When schools were segregated and Virginia was known for underinvesting in public schools, Arlingtonians organized to make sure that students could attend high-quality, well-constructed and integrated schools. As a result, Arlington became an education leader in the state and the nation.

Today, we continue to invest heavily in education, to have diverse schools and school offerings, and to see students achieve remarkable results.

With our success, and likely because of that success, we now face a dramatic increase in the number of students attending our schools. Families are moving to Arlington because of the reputation of our schools. Families are remaining in Arlington even as they grow because of the positive experiences provided by our schools.

In my time as a School Board member and now as Chair, I have seen the importance of the County Board’s continued investment in our schools and promotion of policies that make it possible for our schools to thrive.

The most recent example is the County Board’s July 19th approval of a 10-year Capital Improvement Plan. That plan would provide for a 2014 school bond that would deliver over $100 million toward construction and renovation of schools that are vitally needed to respond to dramatic school enrollment growth.

I am particularly pleased that the County CIP was the result of healthy collaboration between the County Board and the School Board.

When I was first elected to the School Board in January 2010, our student population was 20,200 and our operating budget was $438.6 million. Just five years later, our student population for the 2014-2015 school year has grown to over 24,000 with an approved operating budget of $539.4 million.

This student enrollment growth of approximately 800 students per year is the equivalent of one elementary school each year. Fortunately, the County Board has used County revenue growth in ways that ensure that the schools can meet instructional needs and address the facility needs of the rapidly increasing student population.

Like our student population, few things have remained constant during my School Board tenure. Colleagues have rotated on/off of the Board and we will soon have two new colleagues. Throughout this transition the County Board has been a steadfast partner.

The County Board’s unwavering support for high-quality public school educations has helped meet steadily increasing operating and capital demands, thereby allowing APS to remain one of the best school systems in the country. As Abby Raphael, my predecessor as Chair, noted recently: “The School Board appreciates the tremendous support that the County Board and the Arlington community provide to our students and our schools. Without this support, APS could not be as successful as it is.”

I am grateful that the County Board’s July 19 action will ensure the school community’s top priority projects for elementary and middle school facilities can move forward as soon as possible.

It was just a month before, on June 16, that the School Board adopted its own CIP for 2014-2015. The FY 2014 bond request — that the County Board fully funded — includes four vital capital projects: (more…)

by Peter Rousselot — July 24, 2014 at 1:00 pm 1,727 0

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotPrior to approving its latest Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), a bare majority of the Arlington County Board (Fisette, Hynes, Tejada) voted to deny the public access to critical information. The information they suppressed relates to new transportation projects that are being denied funding or delayed as streetcar costs continue escalating sharply.

The vote to suppress this information comes at a time that this same majority has sanctioned a $650,000 public relations campaign at taxpayer expense to promote the streetcar.

Both actions represent desperate attempts to refloat a sinking ship.

The CIP approved by the Board on July 19 documents sharp increases in streetcar costs as a percentage of Arlington’s total capital budget.

Two years ago, in the FY 2013-2022 CIP, the Columbia Pike streetcar was projected to consume 8 percent of the total CIP and the Crystal City Streetcar 6 percent, for a CIP total of 14 percent devoted to the two streetcars combined. Today, both projects have jumped in cost, and total 19 percent of the FY 2015-2024 CIP for the two streetcars.

In other words, just two streetcar lines totaling only 7.4 miles, consume 19 percent of our total Arlington capital budget, or nearly one out of five of our proposed capital spending dollars over the next 10 years. 

In an effort to determine what new transportation projects might be sacrificed in this streetcar sinkhole, Board members Vihstadt and Garvey in June asked County staff the following question and received the following answer:

Q. If we do not build a streetcar, for what can the money planned for the streetcar be used?

A. Providing alternative projects that could be funded if the streetcar is not funded would require significant additional analysis that a majority of the Board could direct staff to undertake.

Faced with this response, Vihstadt, seconded by Garvey, made the following motion at the County Board’s July 17 CIP work session:

I move that the County Board direct the County Manager to develop and prioritize a list of all Arlington transportation projects over the next 10 years, including information as to budget amounts, funding sources and by fiscal year, that could be funded if we cease all Arlington streetcar spending now (save for legal requirements) and do not move forward with either the Columbia Pike or Route 1 Streetcar projects.

Fisette, Hynes, and Tejada voted against the motion, and the motion was defeated.

With more than half a billion dollars on the line, the County Board majority has denied Arlington voters and taxpayers critical information they need to make informed decisions.

Why are they afraid of providing this information?

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

by Peter Rousselot — July 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm 478 0

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotNancy Van Doren has announced that she plans to run in the special election for the seat on the Arlington School Board that will become vacant on Aug. 1 when Noah Simon resigns.

I support Nancy for the Democratic endorsement and for election in the special election to fill this seat.

Priorities

Among the priorities Nancy has promised to pursue as a School Board member are these:

Educational Excellence for All Students 

Academic success for each student is Nancy’s top priority. Students must leave high school prepared for higher education and success in our technology-driven global economy. Arlington Public Schools must consistently offer students the opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of race, economic status, ethnicity, gender, language or disability.

The strategies Nancy will emphasize include:

  • Providing our highly-qualified teachers with the tools, training, and resources necessary to meet the needs of each student in their classroom.
  • Ensuring children develop strong reading skills by the start of fourth grade, when students begin reading for content.
  • Using proven approaches to close the achievement gap.
  • Providing all students with equal instruction time and the opportunity to study a second language, beginning in elementary school. FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary Schools) should be implemented in all schools.

 Making Room for All Students

  • Maximize the use of all existing space within our schools.
  • Creatively use space in and around the County to meet capacity needs. Consider renting vacant office space, using County facilities, increasing the use of the Career Center, increasing our partnership with area colleges, and using flexible scheduling and on-line classes, particularly at the high school level.
  • Build adequate, flexible classroom space through additions to schools or constructing new buildings, when and where necessary, within fiscal constraints.

County/Schools Collaboration

  • The School and County Boards and their staffs must integrate their long-range planning efforts so that together they can accommodate and fund the County’s growth within its overall budget.
  • Coordinate County resources shared by all residents, young and old: land, facilities, transportation, social services, and recreation.

Additional priorities that Nancy plans to pursue are available at this link: http://www.nancyvandoren.org/#!page3/cee5

Community Service

Nancy Van Doren is an education advocate with 10 years of experience as a parent, volunteer, and leader in Arlington Public Schools. You can access extensive further details at this link: http://www.nancyvandoren.org/#!page2/cjg9

Personal and Family Background 

Nancy has lived for 10 years in Ashton Heights with her husband, Jack Zetkulic, who is an educator and international consultant. They have four children:  Patsy, and Katie, who attend Washington-Lee High School; Annie, who attends Jefferson Middle School; and Matthew, a recent W-L graduate headed to the University of Virginia.

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

by Mark Kelly — July 17, 2014 at 2:30 pm 1,076 0

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark Kelly

Virginia’s photo identification law is going into effect for the general election this fall. The requirement is that every voter be able to produce a photo ID at their polling place in order to cast a vote. The law is certainly not without its detractors, but it is the law, and as such it should be properly enforced.

As a reminder, according to the State Board of Elections, any Virginia drivers license or other DMV-issued photo ID, a U.S. passport, any Virginia higher-learning institution photo ID, any government-issued photo ID, and employer-issued photo IDs will be accepted. Anyone without one of these accepted photo IDs will be able to go to a local registrar’s office and obtain a photo ID card free of charge.

The latest question is whether an expired ID will be accepted and if so, how long it can be expired. State officials are contemplating limiting the acceptance of validly issued ID’s to 30 days after they expired. They are currently open for public comments on the matter.

Arlington officials said via Twitter that the expiration date “shouldn’t matter” for purposes of proving you are who you say you are. While a true statement on its face, Arlington election officials are staking out the wrong position on this issue.

Putting safeguards around the voter ID law, like an expiration date requirement, makes sense. One of the problems that has been demonstrated in voting are individuals registered in, and too often voting in, more than one state.

Earlier this spring, it was revealed that 44,000 people were registered to vote in both Maryland and Virginia. If one of those voters, living in Maryland and registered to vote there, still possesses an expired Virginia ID, should they be allowed to vote in Virginia if their name still appears on the voter rolls here? While it does not happen often, and it is already a violation of the law, your vote should not be canceled or devalued because someone voted improperly in Virginia.

If we are going to have a photo ID law to protect against any voter fraud, then it ought to require that the ID be current. A 30-day rule would give someone who made an honest mistake in not renewing their ID a safe harbor. Going beyond that, or having no expiration date requirement at all, is simply creating a loophole in a law that already goes out of its way to accept current IDs.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

by Barbara Favola — July 17, 2014 at 2:00 pm 745 0

Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Barbara FavolaFor decades, Arlington has been at the forefront of moving Virginia in a more progressive direction.

On key issues like school desegregation, rights of Virginians with disabilities, providing workplace benefits and protections for LGBT Virginians, mental health treatment, women’s equality, protecting reproductive rights, and advocating for environmental protections, Arlington’s General Assembly members have fought tirelessly and effectively to overcome conservative forces that have held Virginia back from achieving its potential.

Outstanding elected officials like Mary Marshall, Mary Margaret Whipple, Ed Holland, Judy Connally, and Bob Brink are among those who have achieved progressive victories in Richmond. They have also fought harmful legislation that conservative legislators — most recently in the Republican caucus — pushed forward in response to calls for party loyalty regardless of the interests of constituents at home.

As we approach the House of Delegates 48th District Special Election on Aug. 19, I hope we will follow the example set by legislators like Bob Brink and ensure that Arlington’s interests are not sacrificed to partisan conservative interests in Richmond.

We have two candidates for the 48th District who have been longtime residents of Northern Virginia and are known as being personable, professional, civically engaged, and respectful of others.

However, I hope voters recognize that these candidates have some major policy differences on issues that will come up on a regular basis in the General Assembly.

Given that the candidates will have only weeks to communicate their legislative platforms, ideas, and perspectives with voters in the 48th District, I thought it important to highlight a few of their policy differences.

Gun Control

Rip Sullivan believes we can and must fix the gun show loophole, which allows certain sellers to avoid running background checks on buyers. This is how some people who shouldn’t own guns acquire them. He will fight to close the gun show loophole. His opponent, Dave Foster, said in his 2009 attorney general’s race for the Republican nomination that the gun show loophole is not a loophole.

Rip believes our national parks, like Great Falls, are sacred grounds where we should be able to run, hike, swim, and picnic without the fear of a gun discharging. Dave has said he wants to eliminate the ban on carrying firearms in national parks.

Women’s Reproductive Rights

Rip believes that reproductive health decisions should be left to a woman and her doctor, and that the government has no business interfering. Dave has said he opposes abortion and that Roe v. Wade was a case of “judges imposing their will.”

Defending the Status Quo on Testing Requirements

While serving on the Virginia State Board of Education, Dave Foster resisted SOL reform that would have made common sense adjustments to state testing requirements. Rip Sullivan supported the 2014 law reducing the number of standardized tests and providing more flexibility to localities and teachers to determine how best to ensure that students are learning the necessary curriculum.

Supporting Conservative Politicians

Dave has called Ken Cuccinelli a “great legislator,” and supported Cuccinelli for attorney general in 2009 and governor in 2013. He has endorsed and financially supported Virginia Tea Party leaders and is former chair of GOPAC-Virginia, a fundraising arm of the Republican National Committee. (more…)

by ARLnow.com — July 11, 2014 at 10:55 am 1,241 0

Rendering of a streetcar along Columbia PikeArlington County’s PR campaign to inform residents of the benefit of the streetcar continues.

This week we reported — followed by other local TV, print and online outlets — that the county had produced more television spots that try to explain “why streetcar.”

Among the expected benefits along Columbia Pike are more development, increased county tax revenue, increased transit ridership, and the preservation of affordable housing.

If you could look into a crystal ball to 2030, and see a revitalized Columbia Pike where all of those things came true thanks to streetcar, would you support the project now?
 

by Paul Holland — July 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm 444 0

Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Paul HollandArlington’s recent trend of monthly elections will continue with a special election on August 19th to choose the successor to our retiring Delegate in the 48th District, Bob Brink.

Following an intense, week-long campaign, Democrats nominated Rip Sullivan as their candidate for the special election. Although I finished second in Sunday’s nominating caucus, I’m proud to give my endorsement and full support to Rip Sullivan.

Rip will be an outstanding candidate and he can be counted on to be the same kind of thoughtful and effective legislator as Bob Brink was during his 17 years of service as 48th District Delegate.

Rip will also be an important ally to Governor McAuliffe and work tirelessly to promote policies and values that align with the majority of the residents of the 48th District. He will focus on issues such as women’s health care, environmental protection, education funding, expanding access to health care, affordable housing, transportation solutions, and advancing the rights of LGBT Virginians. Rip will work against a House Republican agenda that is out of step with the 48th District.

Rip and his wife Beth met in high school here in Northern Virginia. They raised their four kids here, and they have all graduated from public schools. Rip and his wife used to live in Arlington, and they continue to spend lots of time here — professionally and socially.

Rip also has extensive experience serving Northern Virginia and the 48th District in a volunteer capacity as an appointed member on numerous local, regional, and statewide commissions. His local experience includes service on the Fairfax Transportation Advisory Commission, Consumer Protection Commission, Housing and Redevelopment Authority and Park Authority. He’s the former president of the non-profit Legal Services of Northern Virginia, and was appointed by Governor Tim Kaine to the Virginia Commission on Civics Education.

These experiences have given Rip a deep understanding of issues and policies that are important to residents of the 48th District.

On transportation, Rip understands that effective transportation and transit solutions can achieve multiple goals: reduce congestion, protect and create open space, preserve affordable housing, and promote economic development.

As the father of a special education teacher, Rip recognizes the importance of assessing progress, both for our students and our teachers, without creating additional hurdles and barriers to success. He is a strong supporter of SOL reforms that result in sensible testing requirements – requirements that measure our student’s achievements, identify achievement gaps, and provide our teachers with the flexibility to teach beyond the test.

Rip has worked to protect and expand affordable housing opportunities in our region. He understands how to leverage federal housing resources to meet identified housing needs at the community level.

On the environment, Rip is a strong advocate for increasing our investment in renewable energy. To address the impact of climate change, he supports a renewable portfolio standard and incentives. He also supports tax credits that would encourage individuals and small businesses to install solar panels or small wind systems. Rip understands the value of preserving our parks and open space resources and would work with the regional authorities to ensure these places remain open, accessible and undeveloped.

On human services, Rip supports raising the minimum wage and tipped wages, opposes efforts to reduce the social safety net, and is an advocate for expanding workforce training programs that will promote economic opportunity across the income spectrum. He is a strong supporter of Medicaid expansion and the benefits it would bring to the Commonwealth, including providing medical coverage to more than 400,000 uninsured Virginians.

Throughout this campaign, Rip has been open and accessible to the residents he hopes to represent, even giving out his cell phone number in his campaign literature. For more information on Rip and his experience working on important issues, you can visit his campaign website at www.RipSullivanForDelegate.com.

With vigorous debate in Richmond on Medicaid expansion, gun control, women’s reproductive health, and the environment, it is important voters know where Rip and his Republican opponent stand. The Sullivan campaign has already called for a candidate debate, and I look forward to hearing more about the differences between Rip and his Republican opponent.

Rip will be a champion for our Arlington values in Richmond, and if you live in the 48th District, I hope you’ll join me and cast your vote for Rip Sullivan for Delegate in the August 19th special election.

Paul Holland is a lifelong Arlington resident, former Chair of the Park and Recreation Commission, and former candidate for the 48th House of Delegates District.

by Peter Rousselot — July 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm 546 0

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotOn July 7, Carla de la Pava was sworn in as Arlington County Treasurer immediately after the previous Treasurer, Frank O’Leary, resigned. She “plans to run in the special election, expected to be held Nov. 4, to fill out O’Leary’s term, which runs through December 2015.”

I support Carla for the Democratic nomination for Treasurer and for election in the special election to fill this position.

Carla has served as the Chief Deputy Treasurer of Arlington County for the last six years. During her service in this position, the Treasurer’s Office has established a record as one of the best in Virginia and the United States. Arlington’s tax delinquency rate stands at an all-time low of 0.41%.

According to outgoing Treasurer O’Leary:

Arlington is one of the few jurisdictions in Virginia that publishes its delinquency rate; O’Leary estimated most localities have rates 10 times that of the county.

Carla’s performance in collecting our taxes shines. At the same time, rapidly growing numbers of voters justifiably are concerned that their property tax bills — based on the tax rate set by the County Board – are the highest in Northern Virginia.

Carla also has an outstanding record of community service. She is actively involved with numerous community organizations, including Leadership Arlington (Class of 2010), the Arlington Civic Federation (Vice President) and Toast of Arlington. She is a member of the Arlington Committee of 100, Better Sports Club of Arlington, Vice President and Board member of the Arlington Soccer Association, Yorktown Patriots Football Boosters, and Organized Women Voters.

Carla graduated from Wesleyan University in 1981 with a degree in Economics. Her first job was in Corporate Banking in the Chicago and Atlanta offices of the Continental Bank of Illinois. In 1985, she earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. After obtaining her MBA, Carla went to work at The Price Company, which at the time owned and operated Price Club (now Costco). This experience inspired Carla to develop a lifelong interest in operations and management.

Carla is married to Mark Dola, a life-long Arlingtonian. Their three sons, Christopher, Michael and Peter Dola, attended Arlington Science Focus Elementary School, Williamsburg Middle School and Yorktown High School.

To learn more about Carla de la Pava, you can access her campaign website here: http://carlafortreasurer.com/

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

by Mark Kelly — July 10, 2014 at 1:00 pm 896 0

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyWith the County Board authorizing $650,000 in expenditures to promote the Columbia Pike trolley, one has to ask why?

The three Board supporters constantly explain to us that the decision has been made and that the project will go forward regardless of any opposition. Why then, do they feel the need to sell it to us? It seems to be a waste of taxpayer resources since the people who are currently allowed to vote on it hold a 3-2 advantage on the Board.

It is hard not to arrive at the conclusion that it is being done for one reason — political gain. Alan Howze lost the special election in April, largely over this issue. He is trying to win a full term in November.

Next year, two of the current trolley supporters on the Board will face the voters. A taxpayer-funded ad campaign to blunt criticism of the half-billion dollar project is certainly in their electoral interests.

It may be time for local media to ask more questions about the decision-making process. Who originally proposed the PR campaign? Why was it undertaken? What instructions were given about how to move forward on the ads and other materials?

In the same vein, the change of Treasurer in Arlington for the first time in three decades opens a question, could the Treasurer’s office do more to provide transparency of county spending?

Frank O’Leary has come forward with questions about Arlington’s finances — most recently calling into question our growing cash-on-hand numbers. Why not open the books even more?

Reports are the County Manager will soon have in place an auditor on the county staff. Hopefully, the trolley-related contracts will be at the top of their list. While I applaud John Vihstadt for pushing for an internal audit function, the new staff member will report to the County Manager. That chain of command leaves open the question of whether the office will have the independence it needs to shed light on spending decisions.

Public pressure brought about by increased transparency via an independently-elected office holder may be help fill the information gap. The Virginia Code specifically contemplates Internet access to nonconfidential public records from the Treasurer’s office. There is no reason with today’s technology that we could not put Arlington’s checkbook online in a cost-effective way that provides maximum information without compromising any confidential material.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

by ARLnow.com — July 9, 2014 at 11:55 am 1,801 0

Washington Redskins HelmetThe controversy over the name of Washington’s professional football team shows no signs of dying down.

Earlier this week, Democratic blogger and former Arlington resident Ben Tribbett made national news when he resigned from the Redskins. The team hired him two weeks prior to support the public relations battle against sentiment that “Redskins” as a racial slur against Native Americans.

Tribbett, a supporter of the name, said he resigned because the debate got too personal — “things got too hot to handle” and became a distraction to the team.

Tribbett’s hiring came as pressure mounts on the Redskins and owner Dan Snyder to change the name. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last month revoked the trademark on “Redskins,” saying it is “disparaging of Native Americans.” For that same reason, media organizations from the Washington City Paper to the Seattle Times to a student newspaper in Pennsylvania have been banning the use of the team’s name in news coverage.

Tribbett, who now lives in Lorton, says he continues to support the Redskins and thinks news outlets should report, not moralize when it comes to the name.

“The reason I support the Redskins name is, I don’t think it’s a slur first of all,” Tribbett told ARLnow.com this morning. “Having grown up in this area, nothing brought the entire D.C. area together more than the Redskins, and the idea that it’s now a divisive issue really bothers me.”

“I don’t see why anyone would not publish the name, the name of the football team is the Washington Redskins,” Tribbett continued. “Until Dan Snyder or someone else says otherwise, i think journalists should report the news and not make it.”

What do you think? Should news outlets — including ARLnow.com — ban the name or keep using it?
 

by Mark Kelly — July 3, 2014 at 3:00 pm 1,145 0

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyI need to check the record books, but 2014 is shaping up to have the most special elections in Arlington history. Over the past week, Del. Bob Brink, School Board member Noah Simon, and Treasurer Frank O’Leary have resigned. The special election for the seat in the General Assembly will take place Aug. 19 and the other two are likely to be held in conjunction with the general election Nov. 4.

Del. Brink started spending more time in Richmond and less in Arlington in recent years, and is not to be blamed to want to take a full-time Virginia government job as he contemplates retirement. I first got to know Del. Brink in 2007 while campaigning around the county. I joked with him after redistricting that he intentionally had me drawn out of his district to cut down on potential opposition.

Brink quipped that he was almost never on the winning side of a vote in the House of Delegates. Maybe voters will take into account who can actually work with the overwhelming Republican majority in Richmond to advance Arlington’s interests. With 68 of 100 seats, the Republicans are set to control the chamber for years to come. Sending another solid “NO” vote on everything would seem counter-productive.

Noah Simon had a promising future ahead of him that was cut short by the tragic loss of his wife. He is to be commended for putting his children first in this decision, and my prayers are with his family.

Simon’s replacement joins the School Board at a critical time to try and thread the needle on meeting capacity needs without overshooting the target, with limited space to build new buildings, and with tremendous pressure on where boundary lines fall. And, when Arlington spends more than $22,000 per child, parents will have high expectations on how those decisions are made.

There was never a dull moment with Treasurer O’Leary. Readers of this column know that I particularly appreciated it that he took the County Board to task for growing surpluses. O’Leary felt like taxes could be lowered instead. His fellow Democrats on the County Board, on the other hand, did NOT appreciate it.

In November, voters will permanently elect the first new treasurer in 31 years. It would be nice if the guardian of our tax dollars would increase the pressure on the County Board to account for where all those dollars go.

Infusing new blood into Arlington’s elected leadership is healthy. Just as in April’s special election for County Board, I hope voters will have a choice between competing ideas and directions when they head the polls. If nothing else, it will force Democrats to take, and defend, positions on the issues we face.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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